From Comcast SportsNetPHOENIX (AP) -- Lance Lynn wasn't at his best Monday night -- just good enough for five scoreless innings and another victory.The big, young St. Louis right-hander gave up three hits to become the majors' first six-game winner and the Cardinals held on for a 9-6 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.Rafael Furcal hit the 30th leadoff home run of his career for St. Louis, the first of five homers for the Cardinals on the night. Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday hit consecutive homers to open the third off Joe Saunders (2-2). Allen Craig and David Freese homered to start the seventh after Arizona had scored six times in the sixth to cut the lead to 7-6."It was nice for them to come out swinging the bats right from the top, a pretty good display of some power," manager Mike Matheney said. "Then obviously the ones we got later were a lot more valuable than what we thought they would be."Lynn (6-0), the first St. Louis pitcher to start the season with six wins since Bob Tewksbury in 1994, left with a 7-0 lead. Cody Ransom hit a two-run homer in the Diamondbacks' rally."We're winning games while I'm on the mound," Lynn said. "That's all that matters."Jason Motte gave up a pair of singles in the ninth but no runs for his fifth save in six tries.Lynn struck out seven and walked four. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound 24-year-old has allowed six earned runs in six starts. It was his shortest outing of the season, and he acknowledged he had problems with his command."Tonight was a struggle," Lynn said. "You know you're not going to have your best stuff every time out. Tonight I was able to battle through it."Saunders, who entered the game with a 1.24 ERA, allowed seven runs, six earned, on nine hits in 3 1-3 innings."I just didn't have it," he said, "plain and simple."The Diamondbacks, back from a 5-5 road trip, have lost three in a row and five of six. They have dropped eight of their last 10 at home."We haven't played the way we're capable of recently," manager Kirk Gibson said. "If we're going to beat this team we're going to have to play a lot better."Furcal put St. Louis ahead to stay with a leadoff shot an estimated 441 feet onto the porch in left-center, just above the 413-foot sign. After two outs, Allen Craig singled, then scored on Freese's double into the left field corner. The Cardinals made it 3-0 when Yadier Molina singled to right field. Justin Upton's throw to the plate was high and Freese slid under catcher Miguel Montero's tag.Beltran's eighth home run, leading off the third, followed by Holliday's sixth homer of the season, put the Cardinals up 5-0.They made it 7-0, with help of an unearned run, in the fourth. Tyler Green singled, then Montero threw the ball away on Lynn's sacrifice bunt try. Furcal followed with an RBI single, then Holliday walked to load the bases. Reliever Brad Ziegler walked home the seventh run on four pitches.Arizona broke through against reliever J.C. Romero, who faced five batters without an out in the sixth inning. Montero led off with a single, then Ransom hit his fourth home run of the season, a 452-foot shot into the left field seats. Lyle Overbay walked and Aaron Hill singled, then both scored on Ryan Roberts' double. A.J. Pollack reached on an infield single, then Gerardo Parra's bunt brought Roberts home to make it 7-5 with no outs.Fernando Salas relieved Romero and retired the next two batters, but Montero's RBI singled up the middle cut the lead to 7-6.Reliever Bryan Shaw gave up home runs to Craig and Freese to start the seventh as St. Louis stretched it to a three-run game.NOTES:St. Louis batters have hit consecutive home runs four times this season. ... The Cardinals' Lance Berkman, on the DL with a left calf strain, says he expects to be activated on Friday. ... The Diamondbacks were without first base coach Eric Young because of the death of his father. Bullpen coach Glen Sherlock filled in at first base. ... Upton batted second in the lineup for the first time since Sept. 14, 2010. He was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts before being lifted in a double switch after the fifth. ... The Cardinals have scored in the first inning in each of their last seven games. ... The Diamondbacks send ace Ian Kennedy (3-1, 3.23) to the mound Tuesday night against the Cardinals' Jake Westbrook (3-2, 2.12). ... Arizona's franchise record for coming from behind to win is six runs, accomplished six times. ... The final seconds of the Phoenix Coyotes' series-clinching NHL playoff victory over Nashville were shown on the Chase Field big screen.
On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chris Miller caught up with Michigan star Moe Wagner after his workout with the Wizards.
Chris and Chase Hughes also gave their impressions of the first prospects to come in for pre-draft workouts, including which guys are most likely to be Wizards. One of those prospects is a point guard and a likely first round pick. Chase and Chris explain why that's not a crazy idea, even considering the presence of John Wall on their roster.
You can listen to the episode right here:
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The NFL has passed two major on-field rule changes in the last two months. One, the rule that prohibits players from lowering their helmets to initiate contact with another player. That one passed during the spring meetings in March but it was just recently clarified. The other one changes how kickoffs are executed.
Both rules, designed to make the game safer for the players, could have a major impact on the game. And the Redskins are still a little unclear about how to handle them.
Safety D.J. Swearinger is one of the Redskins’ hardest hitters. After saying that the helmet-lowering rule, which is outlined in some detail in this video from the NFL, would not affect him because he hits low, he wondered why he was even wearing a hard hat at work.
“I’ve got a helmet on, but I can’t use it or hit nobody with it, might as well take the helmet off if you ask me,” said Swearinger following the Redskins’ OTA practice on Wednesday.
As of Wednesday afternoon, coach Jay Gruden had not yet been filled in on the details of the helmet-lowering rule. He said that the team will sort it out over the three and a half months between now and the start of the regular season.
“The lowering of the helmet, I don’t know which ones they decided to go with, so we’ll see,” he said. “I know there’s been a lot of talk about bull rushes and they’re trying to obviously protect the players, but we’ve just got to be careful.”
Gruden said that special teams coach Ben Kotwica went to meetings to help hash out the kickoff rule. What they ended up with looks a lot like another special teams play according to the player who will be executing the kickoffs.
“It looks like they’re trying to make it more like a punt,” said kicker Dustin Hopkins. Among the similarities are that the kicking team will not be able to get a running start as the kicker approaches the ball. They will have to be stationary a yard away from the line where the ball is until it is kicked.
The league probably will be happy if the play does more closely resemble a punt. The injury rate on punt plays is much lower than it is on kickoffs.
Some believe that this change will lead to longer kickoff returns. Gruden didn’t disagree, but he said that he needs more information.
“I think without the guys getting a running start, number one, it could be,” he said. “I think it’s just something I have to see it before I can really make any judgments on it.”
The new rule prohibits wedge blocking meaning that you are unlikely to see any offensive linemen on kickoffs as they were used primarily to create or break wedges.
“I think for the most part, you’re going to see more speed guys,” said Gruden.
The Redskins will start to wrap their heads around the new rule during the next three weeks, when they have their final two weeks of OTAs and then minicamp before the break for training camp. Gruden said that they will continue to work on it in Richmond. He said that the joint practices with the Jets and the four preseason game will be important for sorting out just how the team will implement kickoffs.
The best way to handle it might be to just let Hopkins pound the ball into the end zone every time. Last year 72.5 percent of his kickoffs went for touchbacks. He could have had more touchbacks, but he occasionally was told to kick it high to force a return with the hope of getting better field position. But if the rules lead to longer returns it may not be worth the risk.
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